The search engine has just made it easier for new parents to take the first step toward getting mental health care following birth.

By Maressa Brown
December 17, 2020
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After giving birth, stress and a lack of sleep are givens. And depression can often accompany this period. It's quite common; in fact, one in 8 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD), according to CDC research. Now, Google is doing its part to help people who've just given birth take the first step to understanding if they might be struggling with PPD.

Perinatal psychiatrist Dr. Nichelle Haynes shared on Instagram yesterday that Google has added a self-assessment EPDS to searches for the disorder. EPDS is the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, a 10-question screening that can be completed in less than five minutes, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Responses are scored 0, 1, 2, or 3 according to increased severity of the symptom.

In her post that includes video illustrating how the tool pops up when you search for "postpartum depression," Dr. Haynes commented, "THIS IS HUGE. Now, when people are curious about postpartum depression, they are directed to an evidence-based tool to help screen them. Maybe more will seek out care after taking the assessment—I certainly hope so. If you’re wondering if you could be suffering from postpartum depression, this is a great first step!"

As Dr. Haynes notes, there's quite a bit of merit to having a quick, easy self-assessment tool just a Google search away.

Symptoms of PPD may start during pregnancy and continue or escalate post the delivery of the baby and for the first few days, weeks, or up to six months of the postpartum period, and symptoms that go untreated may last for an extensive period, notes Mayra Mendez, Ph.D., LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist and program coordinator for intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health services at Providence Saint John's Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, California. "Symptoms lasting more than 12 months after giving birth are no longer temporary and may require more intensive treatment," she adds.

For that reason, anyone suffering from PPD would benefit from screening early and working with a health care provider as soon as possible in order to talk about next steps. And knowing that Google just made it a bit easier for parents to take the first step is reason to applaud.

Another valuable mental health resource for moms is Postpartum Support International (PSI). You can reach their help line at 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD).

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